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ADB Participates In Trust Fund For East Timor, Boosts Water Supply For West Timor

News and Press Release
Originally published
News Release No. 140/99

The Asian Development Bank is participating in a reconstruction trust fund with the World Bank for East Timor. The fund will be used to rebuild sectors such as infrastructure, agriculture, health, education and macro-economics.

The fund will be administered by the World Bank and the ADB will participate in the preparation, appraisal and supervision of projects. The United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) and East Timorese representatives will be responsible for approving and implementing projects.

East Timor, whose infrastructure was seriously damaged during the massive civil unrest following the recent referendum on independence, still has to apply for membership of the ADB and other multilateral agencies.

ADB attended last week's East Timor Donors' Meeting in Tokyo at which US$522 million was pledged over a three-year period. Of this, $146.9 million is earmarked for reconstruction and development and the rest will finance UNTAET's recurrent costs and humanitarian relief. The pledged assistance will be channeled through bilateral programs and two trust funds, one for reconstruction, the other for governance, capacity building and public administration costs.

ADB President Tadao Chino said, "We are happy to be working closely with the World Bank to coordinate assistance. The ADB can contribute certain areas of expertise, which include public sector management, governance and infrastructure development and maintenance."

Separately, the ADB, in close coordination with UN agencies and NGOs, will provide emergency assistance of $6 million to Indonesia to alleviate an acute water shortage in West Timor. The shortage has reached crisis proportions due to a large inflow of displaced persons. Clean water is critical for infants, children under five, pregnant women and the elderly.

The assistance will expand West Timor's supply capacity of safe water and improve distribution, including to remote areas. The ADB says it will ensure that the equipment and facilities to be provided under the assistance will benefit local residents. West Timor suffers a chronic water shortage and only 60 percent of the population has access to safe water and only 16 percent has piped water.

Funds for the assistance are savings from an ongoing ADB project and are being reallocated at the request of the Indonesian government, which is very concerned with the shortages in meeting basic human needs in West Timor, and is committed to expedite the repatriation of all displaced persons who wish to return to East Timor.

The ADB notes that the situation relating to the repatriation of displaced persons is "fluid." Although the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator has reported over 100,000 persons returning to East Timor, the number of returnees does not directly reduce the recorded number of displaced persons in West Timor as many of the returnees had not been counted earlier. Moreover, there are reports that some returnees are going back to West Timor.

The ADB is providing a technical assistance grant of US$150,000 to monitor the implementation of this emergency assistance. This will include verifying the appropriateness of the locations where facilities will be provided, the appropriateness and efficiency of their use, and the adequacy of the implementation of the assistance. ADB will be the executing agency of the technical assistance. As with all assistance, the Board will be kept fully informed of implementation progress and issues.

For the future, the ADB also expects to provide technical assistance grants to East Timor as early as January 2000. An initial amount of US$5 million will be used for:

  • capacity building for delivery of public services, including preparation of regulatory frameworks for such services;
  • preparing a transport sector project; and
  • starting a community recovery and local governance program.
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